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Android Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Prepare For the Theft of My Android Phone? 374

New submitter Adam Jorgensen writes "Last week my 4-week old Moto G phone was stolen while getting onto the train at Salt River in Cape Town, South Africa. That in itself is no big deal. Cellphone theft is a huge problem here in South Africa and I've had at least two previous cellphones stolen. The big deal this time, for me at least, was that this was the first time I've lost an Android phone to theft. When I actually sat down and thought about it, losing a fully configured Android phone is actually a big deal as it provides ready access to all kinds of accounts, including ones Google account. This could potentially allow the thief to engage in all kinds of malicious behavior, some of which could have major implications beyond the scope of the theft.

Luckily for me it seems that the thief did the usual thing: Dumped the SIM card, wiped the phone, and switched it off. It's probably had its IMEI changed by now and been sold on to some oblivious punter, possibly some oblivious punter in another country. Still, the potential for serious issue is making me have second thoughts about replacing the phone with anything capable of doing much more than calling. My question is this: Are there any serious solutions out there for Android that secure against theft?"

He continues:

By serious I mean solutions that go beyond the laughably easy to defeat 'Find My Phone' and 'Remote Wipe' options provided at present. Presently I'm thinking along the lines of:

  • Full encryption of phone contents
  • Some kind of 'Travel Safe' mode that would lock the phone down and trigger a full wipe of not unlocked correctly (Including wiping the phone on next boot if not unlocked before being switched off/running out of battery).

So, any ideas?"

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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Prepare For the Theft of My Android Phone?

Comments Filter:
  • Public kiosk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @08:44PM (#46451289) Journal
    Simple answer: Treat your phone/tablet as only slightly more trusted than logged in from a semi-public PC, such as at a library.

    I pretty much only log in to anything from my Android tablet via a browser in private browsing mode / incognito. I can then do everything through the browser that TFS' author presumably uses pre-logged-in native apps to do. Email, IM, cloud storage... I use them all, I just don't have my device set up to one-click root-my-life.

    I don't even bother with a password on the thing - It wastes more of my time than that of a potential thief. If someone nabs it, hey, they get a few gigs of music (that I have backups of) and a $50 (replacement value - they don't tend to age well) tablet. Woo-hoo.
  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @08:55PM (#46451367)

    None of the things will protect against theft.

    The thief will still pick your pocket. When they get back to their evil lair, they will find it is password protected. If they try to break the protection (which is easy with the right tools) they will find it is encrypted. Then they will trash the device or perhaps attempt to sell it. For you it doesn't matter, your device is still stolen and must be replaced.

    There are tons of tools out there to make backups so restoration is easy on a new device. But your device is still stolen and must be replaced.

    Encryption has jack shit to do with recovering the hardware.

    Your data and personal information contained on the phone can be proven far more valuable and far more difficult to recover from if leaked.

    Neither of these facts belie your ignorance here. Use your damn head. Encryption helps mitigate a rather specific problem with phone theft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @10:02PM (#46451745)

    Enable the "Wipe after X failures."

    I presume you don't have kids :-)

    Or you teach them that certain things are not toys. Why, maybe you even keep those things out of the kid's reach! Wow! Y'know, like every real parent has done throughout the ages. Knives, matches, car keys, stoves, cleaning chemicals, really there are things much worse than cellphones out there. If you cannot grasp the principle, you have problems much bigger and more important than having your smartphone wiped.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @11:20PM (#46452119)

    And yeah if the gun is going to come out at all, you are no longer talking about a pickpocket (propety crime).

    so how does having a gun prevent pickpockets then?

    just look at all the mass shootings, despite all this dick measuring about the need to have guns not one of those gun toting citizens ever has the balls to actually get in the firing line when shit goes down but the american solution is "need more guns!". look at australia, once they outlawed automatic assault weapons the instances of gun crime dropped dramatically and completely eliminated mass shootings...oh but americans could achieve that too if only they had more guns.

  • Re:Rooted? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @11:22PM (#46452121) Journal
    Did you ever think that some of the Ask Slashdot topics exist to provoke discussion rather than to seek knowledge? Take this one for example. How many folks here have never thought about anti-theft software until now? I'm sure I'm not the only one.
  • by puto ( 533470 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @11:39PM (#46452187) Homepage
    Really, I am Colombian citizen and Colombia is a country where people tend to steal your shoes if they are not tied tightly to your feet. Third world denizens tend to carry their expensive equipment in their hands as a show of wealth, and they get marked and the phones are easily stolen. I lived on and off in Colombia for years with expensive phones and never got them stolen. Why? I do not use them on the bus, the bar, or in the street. Stop using your smartphone as a status symbol in public.
  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @12:06AM (#46452277)

    just look at all the mass shootings, despite all this dick measuring about the need to have guns not one of those gun toting citizens ever has the balls to actually get in the firing line when shit goes down but the american solution is "need more guns!".

    It literally would only take a few seconds to find hundreds of cases where someone with a concealed handgun stopped a mas shooting. But I am sure you don't actually want any facts to interrupt your rhetoric...

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @02:05AM (#46452575)

    but I'd like to go on record as joining the beta sucks bandwagon

    Instead of cursing the darkness, why not light a candle?

    http://soylentnews.org/ [soylentnews.org]

    Because every time I go to that site, I find it as frustrating to use as beta. Why do truncated comments have to load a new page?

    Also I haven't been forced onto beta since I opted for /. classic the first time I encountered beta.

    Soylent news will have to improve to get readership.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @02:32AM (#46452647)

    It is scary how much important private stuff we keep on these portable smartphones, tablets, etc these days, and how screwed we could be if that falls into the wrong hands.

    Maybe you shouldn't be putting your important private stuff on your phone?

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:41AM (#46454063) Homepage Journal

    But what is society doing wrong that these guys can't seem to wrap their heads around wealth to begin with?

    It isn't so much society in general, but the black community itself that seems to have a problem with what it takes to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty and crime.

    I've known blacks, even back when I was growing up, that during HS were working hard to get an education, taking part in scholastic function, like president of student council, etc. They were often shunned or ridiculed by their peers for "acting white". I was shocked to hear this.

    I think that is a large part of what the problem is. The culture, at least of the lower end of the class system, of blacks don't promote things like getting an education and working hard to be successful in today's society as something to strive for. However, thug life, gangsta rap type trappings, and professional athletes are the main heroes that are held up as something to emulate.

    I think this is part of the problem, and it is not something that you can legislate away.

    This general type of attitude is something that can ONLY be fixed from the inside of the community itself, and so far, this isn't being pushed. And sadly, you often see folks that DO escape from this cycle of poverty into successful jobs and neighborhoods, they also shun the lower end and often understandably so, as that they don't want their kids around that culture.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken